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Are Fishing Gloves Actually Worth It? (Full Answer)

Your hands and fingers take much of the brunt when fishing, whether from the elements, the fish you’re handling, or from your own gear. Wearing fishing gloves offers your hands protection. Indeed, you may have seen anglers wearing gloves on the bank or on the water and wondered if they’re worth it.

Fishing gloves are worth it for the protection they offer from UV rays and bugs and for when you’re handling fish and your gear. Fishing gloves also insulate your hands to prevent heat loss in cold weather. Gloves vary in material and thickness to suit different fishing conditions.

Different fishing styles and conditions can require different types of gloves. Let’s take a look at the different types of gloves you can buy, the reasons you should wear fishing gloves, and how to choose the right fishing gloves for your next trip.

Types Of Fishing Gloves

1. Full Gloves

There is a large range of full gloves that cater to the different conditions and styles of fishing. Full gloves are the best option when fishing in cold weather, because they keep your hands dry and warm. Nothing will end a cold-weather fishing trip quicker than frozen, unprotected fingers.

Full gloves are also worn when game fishing to help protect your fingers when leadering and against the toothy predators you are attempting to land. The material on full gloves can be heavy duty for better levels of protection and waterproof to keep your fingers dry when returning fish to the water. Some full gloves have slits in the thumb and finger to allow easier knot tying.

2. Open-Finger Gloves

Open-finger gloves are often preferred for the extra dexterity they offer. One of the main things which can put an angler off from wearing fishing gloves is a perceived loss of feel for the rod and a loss of dexterity when tying knots. Open-finger gloves still offer protection while retaining a natural feel for the rod and allowing you to quickly tie knots.

Some anglers find the casting fingers on full gloves wear down quickly anyway, so they prefer open-finger gloves. You’ll find a range of open-finger gloves to meet your individual needs. Open-finger gloves, however, won’t offer as much insulation in colder conditions or when ice fishing compared to a pair of full gloves.

3. Fold-Over Mitts

This hybrid mitt looks to provide the best of both worlds, combining the benefits of a full glove and an open-finger glove. The mitt element is clipped to the main glove to allow for an open-finger glove when tying knots and to offer a better feel for the line. When it’s time to protect your fingers from the cold, the mitt folds over and is converted to a full glove.

While some people may prefer to take both an open-finger glove and a full glove, a fold-over mitt can provide a single alternative. This hybrid can also be an ideal way to test whether you can tie knots when fully gloved. If not, you have the fallback plan of uncovering the mitt and going open-fingered instead.

If the fold-over mitt doesn’t work for you, there are fishing gloves with removable coverings for the thumb and index finger for easy access to tying knots.

Different Materials Of Fishing Gloves

Just as different types of gloves meet different styles of fishing, there are specific materials used to address the diverse demands placed on them. You’ll want to consider the type of fishing you’ll be doing prior to choosing your gloves, but the following are the main materials fishing gloves are constructed from.

Neoprene

A tough and durable material used on any type of glove, but particularly full gloves. Thickness can vary, which needs to be taken into account for tying knots and for the conditions you will be fishing in. Neoprene tends to stretch well and does not shrink. It is water resistant, but it can be slow to dry when wet.

Wool

The preferred material in days past for its lightweight and insulating properties, wool insulates the hands and fingers well, even when wet. Modern woolen fishing gloves will stretch and feel snug. Wool tends to be used on open-finger gloves as it wears quickly from constant contact with fishing lines. Woolen gloves may also have silicone grips on the palms.

Fleece

Another good material for insulating your hands, fleece is adept at blocking the wind, which is why it is a popular material for outdoor jackets. These gloves tend to be coated to make them waterproof, which keeps the gloves dry and helps to retain the insulting properties of fleece. You can also buy gloves which are part fleece and part neoprene.

Should You Wear Gloves When Fishing?

You should wear gloves when fishing, because they provide tremendous protection against a myriad of things, but there is no hard and fast rule which says you have to. When fishing, your hands and fingers are vulnerable to the elements and sharp or pointed objects such as teeth, line, and hooks.  

Wearing gloves also offers protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays, an important consideration when fishing under the sun for hours at a time. However, finding the right glove for you and your type of fishing is key to feeling comfortable. Even the most suitable glove can take a little while to settle in if you are used to fishing without one.

For some anglers, fishing with a glove just doesn’t feel natural. Some believe they lose the feel of the rod and line, while others say it makes tying knots and adjusting their set-up more difficult. Modern gloves such as the aforementioned open-finger glove have a range of features to help counter this.

The only time you should always wear gloves is when ice fishing or on an extremely cold day. Cold and numbing fingers will be no good to you, so a good pair of insulating gloves is a vital part of your kit. Although whether or not to wear fishing gloves is a matter of personal preference, there are plenty of reasons why anglers choose to wear gloves for both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

6 Reasons To Wear Gloves When Fishing

1. Protection From The Sun

When you’re fishing for any length of time without shade from the sun, you wear protective clothing, a cap, and sunglasses, in order toprotect yourself from potentially harmful exposure to UV rays. Covering your hands is often overlooked, but when you get home, you may realize your hands are the only sunburnt part of your body

Gloves are your first line of defense against direct sunlight. UV radiation from exposure to sunlight can result in painful sunburns, inflict long-term damage to your skin, and increase the risk of skin cancer. Fishing exposes you to long hours beneath the sun, but it is worth remembering you can still feel the effects of UV radiation on overcast days too.

Sunblock is another way to combat UV rays, but it can be less convenient than wearing fishing gloves. This is because you’ll need to continuallyre-apply sunblock when your hands get wet from returning fish to the water. Sunblock also contains chemicals which you can transfer to the fish and to your lures, and the scent can put a fish off from striking.

2. Protection From The Fish

Fish are not soft, cuddly things to hold. Sharp dorsal fins and gill plates can scratch, cut, or even stab an unprotected hand. As well as being immediately painful, it runs the risk of causing an infection which can be potentially serious. Not only do fishing gloves help protect you against the fish you are landing, but they can also give you more confidence when you need to handle fish.

Fish, particularly game fish, are not averse to fighting back either, and some fish have razor-sharp teeth. A bite from a toothy predator can do damage to your hands, but wearing the appropriate fishing gloves for the species of fish you are targeting can offer some protection.

3. Protection From Your Fishing Line

Feeding your line by hand or grabbing braided or leader line when a fish bites, can cut your hand and fingers. Not only does this hurt, but you may instinctively release the line and lose your fish. So now, you have a cut hand and no fish for a consolation prize. Fishing gloves help you grab the line as a fish tries to take off, which helps you control and land the fish without slicing your hand.

When tying knots using open-finger gloves, you can wrap the line around the gloved part of the lower finger to prevent the line from digging into your skin. For some, gloves can provide better grip when fishing, although others prefer fishing barehanded for a more natural feel.

4. Protection From Bugs

Bugs can often be an angler’s nemesis, particularly early in the morning and late in the evening, depending on where you live. Mosquitoes taking a fancy to the tops of your hands as you get set up and fish is not only distracting, but it can also be hugely irritating.

Bites from bugs can induce different reactions in people. Normally, they only result in minor irritation, but some may experience an allergic reaction, which can be serious. Either way, wearing fishing gloves offers a strong layer of defense against hungry bugs.

5. Insulation From The Cold

Just as you would wear gloves when you go out on a cold day, there is no reason why you wouldn’t want to wear gloves when fishing in cold, winter temperatures. Cold fingers that you increasingly can’t feel will be why you call it a day sooner than you’d like.

Fishing gloves are a key part of your clothing when ice fishing, too. They need to be both insulating and waterproof, with neoprene full gloves a likely choice. Gloves for the ice should also have leather or rubber textured palms to aid with grip.

In addition to defending against cold temperatures, gloves also help nullify the effects of a frigid wind. Sitting out in a stiff breeze for a few hours, you may not notice the chill like you would cold air, but your fingers will gradually start to go numb. A suitable pair of gloves can help protect against the conditions forecast for your fishing trip.

6. Protection Against The Terrain

Whether bank side or searching for the best spot to fish, we all have our clumsy moments. Sometimes, we can be more focused on the water than what’s underfoot or around us. Gloves can protect you from cuts and grazes to your palms when striking rocks or stony surfaces as you try to break a fall.

How To Choose The Right Gloves For Fishing

With the amount of fishing gloves on the market, it can be confusing deciding which ones are best suited for you. Before purchasing gloves, you need to consider what type of fishing you intend to do, the time of year you will be fishing, and any enhanced features you require.

Finding the right gloves for you will make a huge difference in their effectiveness and your likelihood to keep wearing gloves and benefiting from their protective qualities. The following are some of the main considerations you should take when choosing the right gloves for fishing.

Weather

When fishing on the ice or in freezing conditions, you will want a thicker glove, one which insulates your hands from the cold, as well as a glove which is waterproof to prevent your fingers getting wet when dipped in the water. Full gloves will keep your hands fully enclosed in extreme cold conditions and should be textured on the surface to aid grip.

In warmer temperatures, you may prefer to opt for an open-finger glove, one which is lightweight and breathable to help prevent moisture building up from sweating. It’s important, however, that the gloves offer UV protection.

Style

You will need to consider the type of fishing you plan to do before deciding on the most suitable style of glove. Open-finger gloves aid dexterity and feel, and they can be the best option when tying knots or when frequently re-rigging tackle.

But when game or sea fishing, a full glove can offer better protection against larger, toothy predators. They can also prevent you from slicing your fingers when forced to grab the line when a fish strikes a lure and tries to take off. The glove should offer good padding but retain a level of flexibility to allow mobility within the fingers.

Some anglers may take different gloves to perform different functions. They may use open-finger gloves for tying knots and full gloves for leadering and landing fish. Again, personal preference and experience will come into play here.

Durability

If you’re a regular angler, then it is worthwhile investing in good-quality, durable gloves. This does not mean they need to be heavy duty, just the best gloves for the fishing you tend to do. Good-quality gloves will stand up to abrasion, and they can save you money in the long term from the need to constantly replace them.

There are also good pairs of fishing gloves at the lower end of the price range. Although they will not be as durable, they should be fineif you are an irregular angler and need gloves for the occasional trip.

Waterproofing

Keeping your hands dry is essential in preventing heat loss, particularly when winter fishing. Gloves which repel water rather than being waterproof may do the job in warmer months, as they can often dry out quickly once they have been in contact with water. When fishing in colder conditions, however, a waterproof pair of gloves is key to keeping your fingers dry and warm.

Grip

Our hands have decent traction to hold everyday items, so when you wear fishing gloves, you don’t want to lose that grip. Most fishing gloves will be designed with an element of grip, but gloves with enhanced grip can be worth the money. These usually involve textured layers of rubber or leather on the palm of the glove to provide better traction when holding fishing gear and when handling fish.

Final Thoughts

Fishing gloves keep your hands insulated and warm and protect you from fish, your gear, and the elements. Choosing the right gloves for the expected weather conditions and the specific kind of fishing you’re doing is key to making the most of your mitts and to a successful fishing trip.